What is everyone gawking at? 

Mammoth Hot Springs

I had been coasting through Yellowstone National Park for the past hour, ogling over the stunning mountains surrounding us and the steamy wonder that is the Mammoth Hot Springs. I’d watched bison after bison slowly shuffle about the rolling hills, forcing us to stop once or twice as the burly beasts took their time crossing the only open road in the park. I had not seen more than one person at a time—until now, that is.

Bison

As my well-traveled-in car crept up to a parking space, I peered over the edge of the snow-covered cliff. Down below, I spotted something I had never dreamed of witnessing during my lifetime, much less during this day. A grizzly bear, fresh out of hibernation, had meandered through the white-tipped spruce trees and found what seemed to be his favorite afternoon snack, an elk. 

Grizzly Bear

The shaggy beast pounced forward, warning all ravens who dared to get any closer to his brunch that they would not enjoy the outcome of their attempts. As his monstrous paws thumped back onto the Earth’s surface, his message seemed to be received loud and clear by the ravens, as they now perched nearby, drooling and waiting for the grizzly to fill his seemingly endless-pit-of-a-stomach.  

However, these ravens weren’t the only ones anticipating a piece of the prize. Nearby, maybe 500 yards or so to the right, a coyote was doing what I do best during Fortnite. Hiding behind what was probably the only bush in the vicinity, this Yellowstone inhabitant was about to have dinner and a show. After encountering how the food chain was playing out, it was no wonder the coyote chose to stay camouflaged, just in case the grizzly decided to get a little variety on his plate for the day. 

Chomp after chomp, the once graceful elk became less and less recognizable, as the white snow became more and more marinated. The bear stood over his victory and let out a great, resounding growl, so great that his cheeks rippled in response. This was his elk, his win, and all that watched were to be aware of this knowledge. You can look, but you can’t touch. As he sunk his teeth into the juicy limb for one last savory bite, I could hear the crunch echo across the plains until it reached my timid ears. If there was one thing to be said, this elk definitely ended up being in the wrong valley at the wrong time. 

 Suddenly aware of his greed—or maybe just full enough—the grizzly bear took one last look up at me and then turned his back with a forceful huff. It was time to start working off all those calories, I suppose. Taking his time, he began to trudge back up the mountainside to go invest in a fat nap instead… or at least that’s what I’d be doing if I was him.  

Last Look

The ravens, clearly excited about this maneuver, swooped in and began devouring what was left of the majestic elk. Though I did not witness how this animal came to be in this position, I do know that not a single part of him was wasted, and he provided not one, but four different types of animals satisfaction for the day. A bald eagle swooped over the scene, reminding us that this was nature; this is how the food chain works in Yellowstone National Park and we were lucky enough to experience this sacrificial gain firsthand. 

As the mighty grizzly bear got further and further away, fading into what I could only describe as a woolly caterpillar, I sat there still with disbelief. Timing is one of the most underrated assets we have in this world. The fact the paths of a grizzly bear, an elk, a coyote, a bald eagle and a conspiracy of ravens all aligned at the same time that I happened to be wandering by is an act that can only be described as fate. The same fate that has led you to be sitting here, reading my story in your home or on the train or maybe even at your desk–don’t worry, I won’t tell your boss. I am not sure what your story is, or why the universe has tossed my words into your lap, but if I am sure of one thing, it’s that I’m confident you will one day uncover your purpose in crossing paths with these adventurous syllables today. 

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